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Today is my last day as an IBMer. I first started at IBM in May 2007 as an intern and am leaving as an STSM. Rather than a more serious post about why I’m leaving IBM, I’ve decided to celebrate my last day by writing about a lesson learned by someone for every year I was at IBM.

Alternatively, view this post in a Twitter thread…

  • Learn Linux fundamentals: In 2007 I spent most of my time testing the WebSphere installer on various *nix systems like RHEL, HP-UX, and AIX. I learned all about logical volumes, managing users, bash, and more. Shout out to Benson Lam for being the team’s “Google” in human form.

  • Automate the boring parts: In 2008, myself and Behzad Salami had come up an automated way to test every WebSphere build. We had scripts that would SSH into our servers, download and run the WebSphere installer and then run JUnit tests. I quickly learned the value of automation.

  • Express gratitude: On the last day of her internship in 2009, Emily Wu sent out one of the most thoughtful emails I’ve read. I was touched by what she had said and appreciated it so much I’ve since adopted the same approach.

  • Build your network: In 2010 I was not yet a full time employee, I was on a yearly contract. I was lucky enough to have a friend in Kent Chung who put me in touch with his mentor, who needed a developer on her team. Finally, full-time status! Grow and leverage your network.

  • Make time for the newbies: In 2011 my team lead was Tinny Ng, who could not only answer every question I had, but did it in a way that never made me feel small. This had a huge impact on me and is an approach I’ve adopted ever since. We were all new at some point.

  • Embrace change: In late 2012 I was re-orged. It was Brad Topol, the DE of the new organization I’d be joining, that re-assured me that this whole “cloud thing” was going to be a wicked ride and we’d get in on the ground floor. He was right (as he typically is).

  • The importance of code reviews: When I started contributing to the OpenStack project in 2013 I immediately learned that a GOOD quality code review is worth as much as the code being proposed. Thanks to Dolph Mathews for teaching me a valuable lesson.

  • Learn open standards: In 2014 I had started to implement new features that were based on open standards (OAuth, SAML, and OpenID Connect). I quickly learned that without open standards things could be so much worse. Shout out to Mtat Rutkowski for all his work in this area.

  • Make the most of an opportunity: In 2015 there was a passing remark about how O’Reilly wanted book idea submissions from IBM. Everyone thought timelines were tight. I pitched an idea to Brad Topol, we enlisted Henry Nash, and a few months later we had our first book!

  • Take time off: In 2016 our first child was born and though no one was forcing me back I felt like I needed to keep an eye on things. I very much regret this choice to this day. Sorry Dini. Luckily, I was better at it the second time around.

  • Everyone learns differently: I became a manager for the first time in 2017. I quickly learned that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. Learn to trust and guide. Thanks to Scott, Rich, and Mark for trusting me.

  • Know what is valued in the organization: I started to get looped into higher level conversations in 2018 and I quickly had to learn how to determine what work is valued and how to communicate the value my team brought to those goals. Thank Amol Jadhav for the tips!

  • Know your clients: I had worked with clients before, but in 2019 Omkar Nimbalkar asked that I work with clients more closely. As developers we may get comfortable playing our part behind the scenes, but to really understand how your product is used, speak with customers whenever you can.

  • Mentor junior developers: Senior devs have a duty to mentor junior devs. Aside from the logical reason of making them better the lesson I learned in 2020 is that it is a wonderful feeling and very rewarding to see young and talented people like Horea Porutiu and Pooja Mistry grow.

  • Know when to leave: I spent the better part of 2021 wrestling with the decision to leave IBM. I was lucky enough to have done a lot of great things at IBM but there is a lot I still want to do in my career. Starting December 6th I’ll be starting a new adventure. Stay tuned!